“When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely”.
I Corinthians 13: 11-12
‘Medio siglo’, translates to a ‘half-century’ and it is an expression my father used when we were children to remind us of his superior age. This advanced to ‘un siglo’, a century, when he felt he had come of age, sometime in his mid seventies! As well as having a sense of mischievousness my father also liked the idea being able to achieve a long and full life, and of this would proclaim he had notched up ‘un siglo de vida’, a century of life! There was a certain endearment in this expression and as the years passed by and we children grew older I, too, anticipated its use!
When my father died he was still quite a way off his actual ‘un siglo de vida’, but he had this idea that he could somehow be like Dorian Grey and life would never end; again that mischievousness. In the years that followed I had time to contemplate that same ominous expression ‘medio siglo’ until finally it was my turn to proclaim it.
The truth is I do not feel my half-century has been that long at all! I suppose from now on life will start to get shorter rather than longer. Apart from this I really do not know what to make of the implications of reaching my half a century of existence. If life is about changes then, yes, I have changed with time, but also there is something, like an essence of who I am, that is unchanged, and which I think will always remain the same whatever the age.
However, whilst arriving at my own ‘medio siglo’ more questions about my own mortality have emerged: How much time might I have left? What might I do with the rest of my life? How might I make best use of my time? Etc. I wonder what the answers are, and feel a pressing need to seek out what the Bible has to say about this, or what the ancients, or the wise, or creative say.
Some people believe that the recipe to best deal with our inevitable mortality is to ‘live everyday as if it is the last’. It is a nice thought, a good principle for life, a noble idea to aspire to. But, if I am totally honest, it is just wishful thinking to ‘live every day as if it is the last’. If I was to live every day as if it were the last it would be a frantic day! Twenty-four hours of chaos trying to decide what to do, to say, to write, to paint...to eat. There would be no rests, nor pauses, no time for that; there would be so much to do...to see...before I go. It would be a woeful, mad day.
I am afraid I cannot live like that, it is not my way. I prefer to take each day as it always is: a quiet surprise, because there is always something one doesn’t quite expect to happen, even with all the advance planning we tend to do nowadays. And this is enough for me. I love the sorts of days when I feel life smiles on me and everything goes well. There is a sense of having achieved something and at the end of the day I am left feeling rewarded intellectually, emotionally, spiritually and I smile back on life.
There are also days when life is not so pleasant. There are grumpy faces greeting me instead of smiling ones....everywhere! At the end of days like these I feel I have achieved little and that I am going nowhere, the day is just an empty day. The other sort of day I have are days when I am not here, not there, just lost.
No matter what the day turns out to be like, my ‘medio siglo’ has taught me to be grateful, to be more respectful to the kind of day I have, and to just BE present in the day. When I say “Thank You” to God at the end of each day before I fall asleep I really mean it.
When a day is good it is easy to be grateful. When the day brings a ‘nothingness’ I remind myself I am surrounded by a devoted wife, mother, sisters, family, friends, parishioners [at least some] and a dog, and they really love me, care for me and hold me in their prayers and thoughts.
I am grateful because at the end of the day everything in this life is about GRACE. To receive it, to give it...it took me my own ‘medio siglo’ to arrive at this place and see it in this way.
There are reports in the news today that more people will reach one hundred years of life...if that is the case I look forward to say one day ‘un siglo de vida’ [a century of life]...if not I will always keep saying THANKS.